Between setups on this month’s cover shoot, Gabrielle and I snuck in some girlfriend time. We’ve known each other for a decade; she even contributed to the advice book I published five years ago, Get Yours! How to Have Everything You Ever Dreamed of and More. We chatted about our lives and about how we had both been through a lot, and we’d love to spread the wisdom we’ve gained. So she decided to write a letter to her younger self for this issue, and I decided to run an editorial feature specifically for Black women on 100 ways to live your dreams.

I still apply the seven rules for getting yours that I wrote about in my book to my life today:

Embrace fear as growth. The more you challenge yourself and reach outside your comfort zone, the more you are growing as a person and becoming who you are meant to be. Open your mind to new ideas and your eyes to new sights. Believe that you can do anything.

Be true to yourself. Never let anyone else tell you what to do, with whom to hang out, what to wear, how to think. You know yourself best; this is your life. Identify your passions, embrace who you are and get comfortable in your own skin.

Realize your value and demand the best. No one will treat you properly or give you the opportunities you seek unless he or she feels your confidence. Expect your dreams to become reality, and they will!

Put into the universe what you want to get back. Make people feel your positive energy. Be generous and loving. Try to help others be all they can be. Contribute to your community. Obnoxious, petty, greedy people will never feel as fulfilled as people who strive to make the world a better place.

Have integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s your friend, your brother, your boss or your neighbor, make good on your commitments. Most important, keep your promises to yourself. Identify your dreams and list what steps you will take today, this year and forever to make them a reality. Then do it!

Stay independent. This is your life; no one can live it for you. Be your own person—even as a spouse, parent, significant other, daughter, son or friend. When you create the life you want, love and protect it as your most valuable asset. Don’t let anyone—under the guise of “taking care of you”—convince you to give up something that makes you feel good. Take care of yourself.

Do something meaningful every day. Your life is happening right now, as you read this. Yes, I want you to dream big and work toward your goals. But please remember that nothing is worth more than today. And this day will never happen again. Make it count.

By following these rules, I have managed to carve out a wonderful life for myself, even through the inevitable ups and downs—and, like so many of us, I have had a lot: I’ve been through divorce, relocation, illness in the family and more. But I also have an incredible job I’m passionate about; I have awesome friends and an amazing son; and I prioritize new and exciting experiences so my life is filled with adventure. What else could I ask for? Check out our 100 ways list, then e-mail me or hit me on Twitter to let me know how you’re going to get yours!